Episcopal Divine Liturgy and Banquet on the 51st Anniversary of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church of San Francisco

On Saturday, October 14, 2017, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, arrived in San Francisco to join the parish community in celebrating the 51st anniversary of the consecration of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church.

The celebration began with a banquet on Saturday evening at “Saroyan” Hall of the Khachaturian Armenian Community Center hosted by the Parish Pastor, Board of Trustees, and Ladies Auxiliary, during which parish members Mrs. Annig Zindarsian and Mr. Leo Donian were recognized for their lifetime of dedicated service to the church and community.

The program began with the invocation by the Prelate. Ms. Naira Naira Der Kiureghian, who served as the MC, welcomed the guests and on behalf of the organizing committee congratulated the community. She then invited Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Garo Mirigian to introduce the evening’s honorees.

Dr. Mirigian gave an overview of Mrs. Zindarsian’s and Mr. Donian’s decades of service to the parish, and together with the Prelate and Parish Pastor, Very Rev. Fr. Barouyr Shernezian, presented certificates of gratitude and commendation to them. Mr. Carlos Mendoza, caretaker of the Khachaturian Armenian Community Center, was also recognized for his decades of devotion and loyalty to the parish community with an additional certificate by the Honorary Consul of Armenian in Fresno.

The program also featured a cultural portion, with recitations by Mr. Vazken Ekmekdjian, piano selections by Mr. Larry Dunlap, and vocal selections by Ms. Helene Zindarsian, accompanied by Kerrilyn Renshaw on the piano.

In his greetings, Fr. Barouyr cited the Bible passage referencing the faith and service of Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, comparing them with the service of the evening’s honorees. Addressing the Prelate, Fr. Barouyr stated, “all of this would not be possible without the guidance of His Eminence,” and concluded by congratulating the Prelate on his 60th birthday, 20th anniversary of Episcopal ordination, and 40-plus years of ordination to the priesthood.

Thereafter the Prelate delivered his congratulatory message. His Eminence stated that anniversaries are of course a time to celebrate but also a time to plan for the future by reflecting on the past, learning from blunders, and building on achievements, so that we can embark on new activities with renewed drive, energy, and vision. Next, speaking on the vital importance of volunteerism in the advancing the mission of our church and nation, the Prelate commended all the volunteers of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church and Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan School for their dedicated service. The Prelate in particular commended the Parish Pastor for his exceptional and devoted service.

His Eminence reminded that volunteers must serve with the sole purpose of bringing glory to God and advancing the interests of the parish, not for personal gain or recognition, and blessed and commended the evening’s honorees for serving with such devotion and loyalty. Giving the example of our Lord Jesus Christ as the leading exemplar of service, the Prelate urged all to vow to become more actively engaged in the life of the parish, inspired by the evening’s honorees and of the generations who have served since the founding of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, and to transmit that spirit to the younger generations, instruct them to remain faithful to the legacy of the Holy Translators so that they serve in their example for the prosperity of our church and nation.

The banquet closed with the Prelate’s benediction and “Cilicia.”

The celebration continued on Sunday morning with Episcopal Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Prelate, who also delivered the sermon. His Eminence first touched on the fires in Sonoma and Napa Counties, praying for God to grant rest to the deceased, protect the heroic firefighters, keep residents from further harm, and grant them strength and patience when the time comes to start the long road to recovery and rebuilding. Next, His Eminence reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from Mark 12:35-44, which tells the familiar story of the poor widow’s offering and also of Jesus’ warning to the people not to be like the scribes, whose faith and service is superficial and insincere. Tying in the message of the reading to the Feast of the Holy Translators, which was observed the day before, the Prelate stated that our Holy Translators contributed all that they had to our nation’s treasury, in the example of the poor widow, and that we continue to venerate their sacred work and legacy centuries on for they brought about cultural awakening and enlightenment and gave us our national identity which endures to this day.

The Prelate gave a historical overview of the collective work of the Holy Translators, which began in the 5th century and continued for centuries after, stating we owe our Holy Translators an enormous debt of gratitude, and we can begin to repay that debt by ensuring that their work was not in vain.” His Eminence noted that for centuries we have succeeded in maintaining our written language, literature, arts, and culture, however it is becoming harder to do so in modern times. Thus, he urged all to do their part in preserving and advancing our heritage, beginning with the younger generations by engraining in them the value of our faith and culture from an early age, so that it remains an indelible part of their identity throughout their lives. Inspired by the ideal example of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the example of the apostles and disciples, and that of our church fathers and our nation’s leaders through the centuries, His Eminence concluded by calling on each and every member of the parish community to contribute to our nation’s treasury and commit to serving with faith and sincerity, unlike the scribes, to carry on the work began by the Holy Translators and the founders of the St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, together keeping our faith and heritage alive and well and the parish community vibrant for many years to come.

Following requiem service, the service came to a close with the singing of the hymn dedicated to the Holy Translators. Afterward, the Prelate was hosted to lunch by the Parish Pastor, Delegates, Board of Trustees, and Ladies Guild members, during which parish matters were discussed. The parish representatives congratulated the Prelate on his 60th birthday and milestone anniversaries, and expressed gratitude for his leadership as Prelate. His Eminence thanked all for the reception, once again commended the service of all the volunteers and urged them to continue to serve with greater drive and teamwork.

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